Monday, August 30, 2010

First few days on the job ...

I enjoy my new job! It's the first time I have been "new" in 13 years ... being new is scary and energizing. Being new is made much easier when the people with whom you work are as welcoming as the people with whom I am working. Kindness, warmth, interest, engagement, these are all words that describe how everyone has been: principal, office staff, teachers, parents, members of the board, members of the community. I feel fortunate to be the new superintendent at my school/district. 

I have been visiting the classrooms in my one-school school district. I enjoy that the teachers and students appear unphased by my walk in's, walk through's, and visits. My aim is to get to know the school, the school's culture, the teachers, the students, the teaching, learning, - the whole picture.  I like what I am seeing, I like that the school has a clear sense of purpose, order, "with-it-ness". It is great to be back in a school setting (it's been 5 years since I was at the helm of a school).

I truly feel that I can make a difference in the education of the students at the school through leadership, management, focus, energy, and collaboration. We face financial challenges like most other school districts in Illinois (and the nation), we face challenges meeting the needs of global/digital learners, we face challenges meeting the needs of diverse learners, we face challenges of having to complete the same mountain of paperwork that "big" districts are responsible for.

My first few days on the job have been really good. It's a transition for me as much as it is a transition for "everyone else". I look forward to reporting on the transition over the next few days/weeks.

Friday, August 27, 2010


Clear guidance and clear standards help keep us all on the right page and accountable for success. In Illinois, the Illinois Professional Standards are great "guideposts" for teachers and administrators as they reflect on best practices, educational needs, and professional growth.

Illinois Professional Teaching Standards
#1 Content Knowledge
The teacher understands the central concepts, methods of inquiry, and structures of the discipline(s) and creates learning experiences that make the content meaningful to all students.
#2 Human Development and Learning
The teacher understands how individuals grow, develop, and learn and provides learning opportunities that support the intellectual, social, and personal development of all students.
#3 Diversity
The teacher understands how students differ in their approaches to learning and creates instructional opportunities that are adapted to diverse learners.
#4 Planning for Instruction
The teacher understands instructional planning and designs instruction based upon knowledge of the discipline, students, the community, and curriculum goals.
#5 Learning Environment
The teacher uses an understanding of individual and group motivation and behavior to create a learning environment that encourages positive social interaction, active engagement in learning, and self-motivation.
#6 Instructional Delivery
The teacher understands and uses a variety of instructional strategies to encourage students’ development of critical thinking, problem solving, and performance skills.
#7 Communication
The teacher uses knowledge of effective written, verbal, nonverbal, and visual communication techniques to foster active inquiry, collaboration, and supportive interaction in the classroom.
#8 Assessment
The teacher understands various formal and informal assessment strategies and uses them to support the continuous development of all students.
#9 Collaborative Relationships
The teacher understands the role of the community in education and develops and maintains collaborative relationships with colleagues, parents/guardians, and the community to support student learning and well-being.
#10 Reflection and Professional Growth
The teacher is a reflective practitioner who continually evaluates how choices and actions affect students, parents, and other professionals in the learning community and actively seeks opportunities to grow professionally.
#11 Professional Conduct
The teacher understands education as a profession, maintains standards of professional conduct, and provides leadership to improve student learning and well-being.

Thursday, August 12, 2010


The past 6 weeks have been energizing, inspiring, exciting, and professionally satisfying. On July 1, 2010, I joined a new school district, my third in 18 years; I spent 4 years in my first district, and 13 years in my second district. On July 1, 2010, I became the 4th superintendent at my school district since 1945 - the 4th superintendent in 65 years - an impressive and humbling fact. In the one school, PK-8 school district where I am honored and excited to work, I have been "in transition" since July 1st. As part of my personal philosophy of leadership, RELATIONSHIPS and relationship building are cornerstones of any successful leadership experience. To that end, my entry into the new school district has been framed by listening, learning, meeting, understanding, examining, observing, reviewing, interacting, visiting, ... one could even say ... "leading". The meetings with staff have been (and continue to be) wonderful. I am eager to begin the new school year so I can see these impressive educators "in action". Transition and change are challenging concepts for many ... I'm grateful to the wonderful people with whom I now work that my transition is going smoothly. Leadership is not easy, leadership is rewarding, leadership is not making everyone happy, leadership is staying focused and building successful relationships. I'll keep the blog updated as the year progresses - this may become "a superintendent's journal" in addition to thoughts on educational leadership!